24 user 48 critic

Secret Ballot (2001)

Raye makhfi (original title)
1:37 | Trailer
A female election agent and a gun-toting soldier try to collect votes among the local islanders with mixed success.


Babak Payami


Mohsen Makhmalbaf (original idea), Babak Payami
10 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview:
Nassim Abdi ... Girl
Cyrus Abidi ... Soldier
Youssef Habashi Youssef Habashi
Farrokh Shoja Farrokh Shoja
Gholbahar Janghali Gholbahar Janghali


A soldier stationed on a deserted beach wakes up and discovers that it's not going to be an ordinary day: there are the elections, but nobody seems to know anything about them. Just as an electoral urn is being parachuted from the sky, a young woman disembarks on the beach. To the soldier's bafflement, it turns out that she is in charge of the mobile electoral seat and voting on the islands; therefore the soldier is obliged to obey her orders and escort her with his rifle and army jeep across the desert, where the woman obstinately intends to collect the votes. During the day, stressed by a series of absurd events, the two learn to get to know each other. At sunset, when the young woman leaves, the man realizes that the secret vote contained much more than he had ever imagined. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In Iran, This Election Day was just the beginning... See more »


Comedy | Drama


G | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Ra'ye makhfi was filmed entirely in Kish Island, a resort island in the Persian Gulf although it is not mentioned in the movie. See more »

User Reviews

A Charming Civics Lesson About Bringing Democracy To the Mideast
15 October 2005 | by noraleeSee all my reviews

"Secret Ballot (Raye makhfi)" should be required viewing in every class in the country that deals with civics, government, and social studies (it wouldn't hurt the kids to read the subtitles). And it wouldn't hurt for policy makers who mouth off about allies while ignoring lack of democracy to see this too.

The story is simple -- an idealistic government agent is sent to get as many votes as possible by 5 pm on a desert island (I didn't even know Iran has such islands, let alone that they are populated.) The agent is accompanied by a resentful, cynical soldier.

On this unique road trip of a scavenger hunt they each are changed in subtle ways by each other and the wide variety of characters they meet up with who deal with their first exposure to them, to voting and to a secret ballot in a variety of complex ways that are beyond American experiences.

The movie vividly demonstrates the physical,logistical, psychological, political and social challenges of bringing some semblance of democracy to other cultures, let alone to the Mideast. While the amateur actors keep this from having an emotional Hollywood satisfaction so it feels more like a docudrama/comedy, their reality (including the obvious censorship restrictions) brings it all home anyway.

(originally written 9/2/2002)

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Official Sites:



Iran | Italy | Canada | Switzerland



Release Date:

26 October 2001 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Bulletin secret See more »

Filming Locations:

Kish Island, Iran


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,609, 11 August 2002

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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